(USA TODAY) Most everybody complains about the government shutdown, but Chris Cox is actually doing something about it.
With many government operations shuttered by the political standoff in Washington, Cox took a lawn mower to the National Mall this week and began cutting grass areas between the Lincoln and World War II memorials.
"These are our memorials. Do they think that we're just going to let them go to hell?'' Cox told Washington radio station 99.1 in a story recounted by Columbia, S.C., TV station WIS.
Cox carried a blue South Carolina state flag as he pushed a standard gasoline-powered mower. He is a native of Mount Pleasant, S.C., living just outside Washington in Alexandria, Va.
He calls his one-citizen effort the Memorial Militia, aiming to keep things tidy and trim the grass that failed to halt its growth when the U.S. government issued furloughs and suspended many official functions last week.
"If they shut down our memorials, we're still going to take the trash out, we're going to clean the windows, we're going to cut the grass, we're going to pull the weeds, we're going to do the tree work,'' he said.
Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., said Cox visited him at his congressional office last week to voice displeasure with the shutdown. Sanford said he had never before met Cox, whose hometown is in Sanford's district, and assumed that visit was the end of it – until the congressman spotted Cox and his flag at work Wednesday.
"It turns out he had taken it upon himself since our visit last week to keep up the Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam and World War II memorials and surrounding grounds,'' Sanford said.
"He bought a lawn mower, a blower and told me he had spent the days and evenings since our visit picking up trash, cutting grass and blowing leaves to keep walkways clean,'' said Sanford, a former governor of the state.
There's no official sanction for his work, Sanford noted. He said Cox told him a U.S. Park Service officer had approached him an hour earlier and "told him he was no longer allowed to do so ... though the park service would not maintain these monuments now.''
Cox told the station that he's not motivated by politics but wants to keep the memorials looking tidy as veterans arrive for a planned Million Vet march on Washington.
Pictures of Cox at work popped up on social media websites, where he has received lots of support and praise – particularly from the Palmetto state.
"That's how we roll in S.C.!! Bless you sir!,'' Natasha Morgan Graham wrote on a Facebook page run by FoxCarolina.com, a TV station website.
"You go lawn mower man!!!, wrote Lisa Marie Stoehrer. "Lawn mower man is the epitome of what it means to be a proud American!! Mow on!!''
Contributing: Catalina Camia